Covers the study of (mostly homogeneous) macroscopic systems from a heat/energy/entropy point of view. Maybe combine with [tag:statistical-mechanics].

learn more… | top users | synonyms (1)

7
votes
1answer
1k views
7
votes
3answers
125 views

What would be non-ergodic physics processes?

As the title says, what would be non-ergodic processes that occur in statistical physics? Many textbooks do not really cover ergodicity really well so I ask this question. I can't suddenly remember ...
7
votes
1answer
196 views

How do ice spikes form?

I recently saw this picture posted on Twitter which shows a so-called ice spike rising from an ice cube tray. I have read the Wikipedia page, but it doesn't mean much to me. My instinct was that it ...
7
votes
4answers
9k views

Are specific heat and thermal conductivity related?

Are there any logical relationship between specific heat capacity and thermal conductivity ? I was wondering about this when I was reading an article on whether to choose cast iron or aluminium ...
7
votes
2answers
189 views

How do greenhouse gases trap heat?

I am looking for a molecular-level understanding of the greenhouse effect. What is it about the carbon-dioxide molecule (and methane, and water, etc) that is different from other gasses ...
7
votes
2answers
4k views

Is there a simple way to derive a T-S diagram from a p-V diagram for arbitrary processes?

Often, for thermodynamic processes only a p-V diagram is shown. Even without hard figures, the shape of the curve can be helpful to evaluate the process. However, it is hard to figure out for real ...
7
votes
5answers
3k views

How do we perceive hotness or coldness of an object?

Some objects, especially metallic ones, feel cold on touching and others like wood, etc. feel warm on touching. Both are exposed to same environment and are in their stable state, so some kind of ...
7
votes
3answers
304 views

If I take a handful of salt and wait for an infinite time will it become a single crystal?

That pretty much says it. Suppose I have some powder of $NaCl$. It is kept in contact with itself in vacuum. You are free to remove all the disturbances that bother you. Is that true that, well, ...
7
votes
2answers
4k views

How cold does it need to be for spit to freeze before hitting the ground?

What is the dominant form of heat transfer between warm water and cold air? If a $100 mg$ drop of water falls through $-40 C$ air, how quickly could it freeze? Is it credible that in very cold ...
7
votes
4answers
253 views

Is energy extensivity necessary in thermodynamics?

Given a partition of a system into two smaller systems, the energy $U$ is devided into $U_1$ and $U_2$, with $$U=\mathcal{P}(U_1,U_2):=U_1+U_2,$$ so that $U_2$ is given by $U-U_1$. Here the ...
7
votes
5answers
4k views

Recommendations for Statistical Mechanics book

I saw Book recommendations No reference to Statistical Mechanics there. I learned thermodynamics and the basics of statistical mechanics but I'd like to sit through a good advanced book/books. Mainly ...
7
votes
1answer
216 views

Evaporating water in -30ºC

I don't really know anything about physics even though I pretended studying it for years. How is this explained?: ...
7
votes
1answer
206 views

Any open areas to work in non equilibrium thermodynamics for a Phd student? [closed]

I see that many papers written on fundamentals of thermodynamics(theory) nowadays are by some old professors somewhere(there may be exceptions). Most active young faculty don't seem to be seriously ...
7
votes
2answers
188 views

How does one calculate where the “surface” of a gas-giant would be?

Okay, so Jupiter, Saturn, et. al are gas giants. I understand that they have large gassy atmospheres, which, due to the pressure would eventually become more and more dense as one approaches the ...
7
votes
3answers
329 views

Does fire create air resistance?

Does fire create air resistance/drag? So, for example, would it be harder to swing a flaming sword than a normal one?
7
votes
3answers
955 views

Energy equation for an open system

I teach undergraduate thermodynamics and I was quite ashamed that I couldn't explain to a student, the following. I thought I'd bring it to physics.SE in hope of providing my student a good ...
7
votes
3answers
215 views

Why does ice melts, waits for 100 degrees and THEN vaporises? Why is not the process of expansion of things continuous?

What I am asking is this: Why can't a body be solid, then solid-ish, then solid-like, then liquid-like, then liquid-ish, then liquid, then vapor-like and then vapor? Why is there a rigid temperature ...
7
votes
2answers
383 views

Why does Platinum evaporate if left long enough?

I have been reading into research relating to the redefining the 1 kg weight as the current Platinum-Iridium is becoming smaller. In this article, here, it mentions that the original metal weight ...
7
votes
1answer
1k views

How does the boiling time depend on the number of eggs

My nephew showed me an exercise from his school-textbook about boiling eggs. Here is the exercise (translated from german): To make one hard-boiled egg in a pot of water one has to put it for 8 ...
7
votes
1answer
423 views

Why is (von Neumann) entropy maximized for an ensemble in thermal equilibrium?

Consider a quantum system in thermal equilibrium with a heat bath. In determining the density operator of the system, the usual procedure is to maximize the von Neumann entropy subject to the ...
7
votes
1answer
286 views

What do we mean when we talk about Gibbs Free Energy?

Before I start, I'm aware that this question may be better suited on the Chemistry or Biology site, but it's my belief that physicists are more likely to have a clear understanding on what certain ...
7
votes
1answer
658 views

What meaning does the slope of the efficiency path on a Mollier diagram have in terms of temperature?

Let's say I have a steam turbine that I have modified to increase its isentropic efficiency. As a specific case, consider the modification outlined in the Mollier diagram below. The arrows represent ...
7
votes
1answer
295 views

Melting point, is it determined only experimentally?

I am interested in the underlying physics of the concept of a melting point, a temperature at which an object tends to gain enough energy to break the bonds that hold it together and be in a liquid ...
7
votes
3answers
912 views

Imaginary time in quantum and thermodynamics

The following question is about chapter 2 of Sakurai's Modern Quantum Mechanics. I wish I could link to the Google book, but it doesn't seem to have a satisfactory preview to be able to read the ...
7
votes
2answers
503 views

Mechanical Equivalent of Heat

Recently I have been looking up James Joule's experiment regarding the mechanical equivalent of heat. After viewing some drawings of the apparatus, I assumed that the lines holding the weights would ...
6
votes
9answers
2k views

What is entropy really?

On this site, change in entropy is defined as the amount of energy dispersed divided by the absolute temperature. But I want to know: What is the definition of entropy? Here, entropy is defined as ...
6
votes
5answers
2k views

Should I heat my room when I'm not here, energy-efficiently speaking?

I was wondering as it's getting cold : is it better for my electricity bill to shut down completely my (electric) heater during day, and to turn it on again when I come home (then it will have to heat ...
6
votes
2answers
668 views

Why isn't the Earth's core temperature the average of its surface temperatures?

Assuming that the earth is spherical, that its temperature is continuous, and that some other more or less realistic conditions hold, we might think that the Earth's core temperature should be about ...
6
votes
3answers
9k views

Why do lightbulbs continue to glow after the light is turned off?

I've noticed that whenever I turn the lamp off in my room at night, the lightbulb seems to continue to glow for a minute or so after that. It's not bright though; the only way I even notice it is if ...
6
votes
2answers
1k views

Why isn't water running faster hotter?

I was running the washing up water this morning, and started to think about why the cold tap isn't hot, and why the water doesn't get hotter the faster it is flowing (if anything, the cold tap gets ...
6
votes
4answers
286 views

Physical interpretation of changing variables $S(T,V)$ to $S(T,p)$

I'm confused in this situation. In an example of this book (Example 16.5. Thermal Physics, by Blundell) they ask to prove that $$C_P - C_V = VT\frac{\alpha^2}{\beta_T}\tag{1}$$ but using the fact ...
6
votes
2answers
1k views

Why did my liquid soda freeze once I pulled it out of the fridge?

Can someone explain in both layman's terms and also technically why when I pulled my glass filled with liquid soda from the freezer, the liquid soda quickly froze? Doesn't this violate the 2nd law of ...
6
votes
2answers
2k views

Chemical potential of particles with zero mass

Why massless particles have zero chemical potential?
6
votes
5answers
2k views

Can I take heat from the air and convert it to electricity?

Its a summer day and the air in my house has been heated up. I could switch on my air conditioning, but then I'd be using energy from the grid in order to reduce the amount of energy in my house. ...
6
votes
3answers
1k views

How does cold air move through a room

If you turn on a fan in a warm room, it feels as if cold air is being pushed from the fan out in the direction that it's facing, but what's actually happening on a molecular level? When an object is ...
6
votes
5answers
720 views

What is the meaning of following expresion $C=\frac{\delta Q}{dT}$ mathematicly

Our professor raised the following question during our lecture in Statistical Physics (even so it's related to Thermodynamics): Many text books (even wikipedia) writes wrong expressions (from ...
6
votes
3answers
8k views

Why does microwaved food get cold faster

My evidence is entirely anectodal and non-scientific, but I've noticed food gets cold faster when it's been heated in a microwave instead of a stove. Is this true? And if it is, why does it happen?
6
votes
5answers
1k views

How does the temperature of the triple point of water depend on gravitational acceleration?

Suppose I do two experiments to find the triple point of water, one in zero-g and one on Earth. On Earth, water in the liquid or solid phase has less gravitational potential per unit mass than water ...
6
votes
5answers
12k views

The difference between heat and temperature

So as I understand it, heat energy of an object is the SUM of all the kinetic energies of the molecules of the object (upto constant factor). The temperature on the other hand is the AVERAGE of the ...
6
votes
4answers
877 views

Second Law of Thermodynamics and the Arrow of Time: Why isn't time considered fundamental?

I've come across this explanation that the "arrow of time" is a consequence of the second law of thermodynamics, which says that the entropy of an isolated system is always increasing. The argument is ...
6
votes
3answers
4k views

Could a sleeping bag be warmer if you are naked inside?

I have heard conflicting theories about the best way to keep warm in a sleeping bag in the winter. Some people say you should bundle up in your sleeping bag and another theory says that you should be ...
6
votes
5answers
981 views

How is this process not quasi-static yet reversible?

Consider a (adiabatic) canister with a piston containing some gas kept in a vacuum. There are two weights on the canister which equalize the pressure of the gas on the piston. Assume the system is at ...
6
votes
4answers
2k views

Is energy the ability to do work?

Here was my argument against this, the second law of thermodynamics, in effect says that, there is no heat engine that can take all of some energy that was transferred to it by heat and do work on ...
6
votes
1answer
1k views

Clear up confusion about the meaning of entropy

So I though, and was told, that entropy is the amount of disorder in a system. Specifically the example of heat flow and it flows to maximize entropy. To me this seemed odd. This seemed more ordered ...
6
votes
2answers
439 views

Is temperature quantized?

I'm learning quantum mechanics on my own. I've known that energy is quantized and I've started wondering about temperature. From thermodynamics we have: $$U=\frac{3}{2}NkT $$ (for ideal gas, of ...
6
votes
3answers
279 views

Is there a number that describes a gas's departure from the ideal gas law?

When judging if relativity is important in a given phenomenon, we might examine the number $v/c$, with $v$ a typical velocity of the object. If this number is near one, relativity is important. In ...
6
votes
4answers
482 views

Why does a short circuit generate fire?

When a short circuit occurs it's obvious that there is fire. How come electric energy turns out to be heat energy? What causes the conductors to get hot when short circuit is present.
6
votes
1answer
220 views

Measuring temperature at a distance

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gKYrXHZwtPw In this video it is explained that Land Skin Temperature (LST) are measured by NASA's Aqua and Terra satellites. It seems it works by collecting the ...
6
votes
4answers
703 views

Can a single molecule have a temperature?

A show on the weather channel said that as a water molecule ascends in the atmosphere it cools. Does it make sense to talk about the temperature of a single molecule?
6
votes
3answers
6k views

How does an earthen pot keep water cool?

I understand that evaporative cooling takes place thanks to small pores contained in the pot and that allow some water to go through and evaporate. However I couldn't understand clearly whether water ...